Rev. Robert Pickering ASHE
Emma Lena Edith JACKSON
Frederick James WHITTALL
Capt. Robert Henry Nicholas ASHE
Ivy Elise Anne WHITTALL

James Oliver Patrick ASHE


Family Links

1. Elsie (Sandy) SAUNDERS

2. Sandra SWAINE

James Oliver Patrick ASHE

  • Born: 5 Oct 1925, Cyprus
  • Marriage (1): Elsie (Sandy) SAUNDERS in 1948 in Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England
  • Marriage (2): Sandra SWAINE
  • Died: 24 Sep 2004, Watamu, Kilifi County, Kenya aged 78

   Another name for James was Jimmy.

  General Notes:

Extract from England and Wales Marriages
Groom: James O. P. G. Ashe
Bride: Saunders
Marriage Registered: Jan-Mar 1948 in Isle of Wight

Extract from "A History of the National Museums of Kenya"
1964: Upon the death of Mr. Webb in 1964, Mr. James Ashe became the Curator of the Snake Park.

From a childhood of moving from country to country with his parents and a period spent in the British Army as a paratrooper, he moved to South Africa to train as a mining engineer, thence to the Rhodesian/Congo border and upwards to Kenya. It was the wildlife that had always fascinated him and, in Kenya, he began to concentrate on the reptiles, and the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi finally offered him the position of Curator of Reptiles in 1964.
Promoting the Snake Park there meant that he became well-known in the country and was often called in to do identifications for snakebite cases at the hospitals. James left Kenya in the 70's as Zoological Director in Safari Parks, both in America and Britain returning to Kenya in 1980 to start a snake farm in Watamu. Residents and hotels employed them to give snake talks. In return, the Ashes would remove unwanted reptiles from house and gardens and provided antivenom from their own stock for anyone with a serious snake bite.
Once it was realized that Bio-Ken Snake Farm would assist with antivenom, the demand grew to overwhelming proportions. Local and district doctors requested a 'proper' training talk on treating snake bite and so the International Snake bite Seminars began. The first seminar in 1997 was repeated in 1999, 2002 and again in 2004 exactly a week after James had died.
In his honour, the antivenom fund has been enlarged, to cover as much of Kenya (or beyond) as possible and is now named the James Ashe Antivenom Trust.
James wrote many scientific papers on snakes and identified and named the first Mt. Kenya Bush Viper, Atheris desaixi, in 1967. He co-wrote many reference books on reptiles including the excellent 'Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa'.

Extract from the "African Journal of Herpetology": Vol. 53, Issue 2, dated December 2004.
James Ashe, who has died at the age of 79, at Watamu on the Kenya coast, was a dynamic snake man and naturalist, who inspired several generations of young people in Kenya. Born in Cyprus in 1925, Jim quit school at 17 and served with the parachute regiment in the Second World War. After leaving, he trained and worked in South Africa and later in South America as a mining engineer, before arriving in Kenya in 1957 to take up an engineering post.

Extract from online blog
Saturday, December 8, 2007
New Spitting Cobra Species
A new species of spitting cobra\emdash now the largest in the world\emdash has been named by researchers in Kenya and the United Kingdom.
The newly anointed Ashe's spitting cobra, or large brown spitting cobra (Naja ashei), can reach lengths of more than 9 feet (274 centimeters) and is believed to deliver more venom with a single bite than any other cobra on the planet.
The aggressive reptile was previously identified as a brown-colored variant of the black-necked spitting cobra, though researchers had long suspected that it merited its own species. Now blood and tissue analysis have confirmed this theory to be true.
The snake dwells in the dry lowlands of north and east Kenya, as well as in Uganda and Ethiopia.
It is named after James "Jimmy" Ashe, a prominent herpetologist who founded the Bio-Ken snake farm and research center in Watamu, Kenya, where the snake is commonly found. Bio-Ken milks snakes for their venom and sends it to labs to develop antivenin.
The findings were first published earlier this year in the animal taxonomy magazine Zootaxa by researchers at the University of Wales and the Biodiversity Foundation for Africa in Buluwayo, Zimbabwe.
But they gained wider notice on Friday when the researchers announced the new species through the nonprofit conservation group WildlifeDirect.
Royjan Taylor, the director of Bio-Ken, said the paper's authors had asked him to wait several months to give time for other herpetologists to challenge their findings. None did.
Spitting cobras eat eggs, carrion, snakes, lizards, and birds. Their venom has two uses: to kill prey and for defense. The reptiles can spray venom several yards and usually aim for the attacker's eyes, giving the snake the best chance for escape.
A Healthy Appetite
Snake experts had long believed that the brown spitting cobra was fundamentally different from the black-necked spitting cobra.
Other variants of the black-necked spitting cobra fought harder when handled and took longer to settle down in captivity. Once in their cages, they were picky eaters.
But the Ashe's cobra was less resistant to handling, generally less alert, and less picky. And they were bigger.
"There's a butcher here in Watamu who gives us chicken heads, and [the Ashe's cobra will] eat five or six chicken heads at once," Taylor said.
"That's very unlikely for the spitting cobra group."
Ashe's cobras are not the only kinds of snakes that get lumped together.
Researchers suspect that many different species of snake, such as the highly venomous puff adders, have been grouped into species that need greater differentiation.
Ineffective Antivenin
The greatest significance of the new finding may be for residents along Kenya's Indian Ocean coast, who are at risk of being bitten by the new cobra.
Its venom is similar to the species it was previously grouped with, but it can deliver about twice the amount of venom with a single bite.
That means that doctors previously treating bites from what turned out to be Ashe's cobras were only administering half the necessary dose of antivenin to victims.
New developments in antivenin may be made from studying the chemical makeup of the new cobra's venom, researchers add.
"The fact that this is a separate species raises a question of the efficacy of existing antivenins," said David Warrell, a herpetologist at the University of Oxford, who was not among the co-authors.
"It hasn't been studied at all, so that's a complete mystery."
"Planet Mismanagement"
Taylor of Bio-Ken says he hopes the new species will bring in more funding for research.
He wants to study the snake's venom to see how it differs from that of other spitting cobras, and to find out what role it can play in antivenin production.
The snake is not thought to be endangered, but WildlifeDirect officials said its discovery should draw attention to the animals that are being lost to human encroachment.
"A new species of giant spitting cobra is exciting and reinforces the obvious," WildlifeDirect Chairman Richard Leakey said in a news release. (Richard Leakey is a past grantee of the National Geographic Society, which owns National Geographic News.)
"There have to be many other unreported species\emdash but hundreds are being lost as their habitats disappear under the continued mismanagement of our planet."

Extract from "The Kenya Gazette" dated 15 September 2006

Gazette Notice No. 7420
In the High Court of Kenya at Malindi in the Matter of the Estate of James Ashe,
Probate and Administration.
Succession Cause No. 26 of 2005.
Let all the parties concerned take notice that a petition for a grant of letters of administration with written will annexed to the estate of the above-named deceased, who died at Watamu, on 24th September 2004, has been filed in this registry by Robert Stewart Ashe, in his capacity as son of the deceased.
And further take notice that objections in the prescribed form to the making of the proposed grant are invited and must be lodged in this registry within thirty (30) days of publication of this notice.
And further take notice that if no objection has been lodged in this registry in the prescribed form within thirty (30) days of the date of publication of this notice, the court mya proceed to make the grant as prayed or to make such order as it thinks fit.
Dated the 28th June 2006.
D. O. Ogembo, Deputy Registrar, Malindi
Note: The will mentioned above has been deposited in and is open to inspection at the court.

James married Elsie (Sandy) SAUNDERS in 1948 in Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England. (Elsie (Sandy) SAUNDERS was born circa 1924.)

James next married Sandra SWAINE.

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